For the past month, DHRRA has been going around town to town…house to house in every district in Perak, conducting mapping and registration of stateless or undocumented Indians. During this exercise, DHRRA’s team in Hilir Perak led by Thulasi Martin came across two lovely children who felt that their future is uncertain due to the lack of proper legal documents.
Despite their eagerness to join their peers in school, the two sisters were not able to do so. Devi, 10 years old, had to discontinue schooling while in Standard 1 as her birth certificate says that she is a non-citizen of Malaysia. Her sister, Hritika, 7 years old, was denied admission in Standard 1 this year due to the same reason. The Tamil Schools are unable to process their admission as they have to follow the procedure set by the Education Department.
Working for more than 10 years in addressing statelessness, especially among the Indian community, we at DHRRA understand too well the plight these individuals face. Moreover, we are also aware that having no education is another huge stumbling block in life. Wanting to make a difference in these children’s future, M. Vigneswary, DHRRA’s officer and the rest of the Hilir Perak team got the ball rolling to obtain school admission for these children.
From the interaction with the family, the school and the Education Department, we learned that a prior application was done a few years ago with the Education Department to seek permission for Devi’s admission. However there were no follow-up. DHRRA Malaysia refreshed the application while submitting a new one for Hritika. As the family was also struggling to make ends meet, DHRRA borne the fee paid to the State Education department amounting to RM240 for both of them.
On 21st July 2014, Devi and Hritika joined Standard 4 and Standard 1, respectively, at SJK (T) Ladang Selaba, Teluk Intan. They were happy to walk into their classroom in their new school uniform, shoes and bag sponsored by DHRRA. We also provided them with the much needed stationery and books to start off their formal education.
DHRRA would like to take this opportunity to appreciate DHRRA’s team in Hilir Perak for recognizing the issue and resolving it swiftly. We would like to request all the community leaders to join hands with DHRRA Malaysia to address the legal document issues among the Indian community.